SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy made a rare lineup tweak for today’s Game 3 of the NLCS, flip-flopping Travis Ishikawa and Brandon Crawford. Ishikawa will bat seventh and Crawford eighth against Cardinals right-hander John Lackey.
Bochy said he likes Ishikawa’s at-bats recently, and that there’s also a strategic reason. He’s more likely to pinch-hit for Ishikawa than Crawford against a left-handed reliever, so he’d rather have Ishikawa in between left-handed hitters Brandon Belt and Crawford.
Ishikawa is also more likely to come out on a double switch, giving Bochy one more spot between that lineup position and the pitcher’s spot.
Bochy didn’t say this, but there’s also the fact that Crawford is 2-for-20 in the Giants’ last five games. Neither he nor Ishikawa has any career regular season at-bats against Lackey.
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Here’s the full Giants lineup today:
And the Cardinals’ lineup against Tim Hudson:
* Yes, that’s former Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski starting for the Cardinals today in the spot of injured Yadier Molina. Molina is the Cardinals’ all-time leader in postseason hits with 89, and he has started 83 consecutive playoff games for St. Louis. That streak will end today after he suffered an oblique strain in Game 2.
Manager Mike Matheny said the decision between Pierzynski and Tony Cruz came down to Pierzynski’s experience catching Lackey -- they both started this season in Boston -- and Pierzysnki’s history against Hudson -- He’s 8-for-21 against Hudson in his career.
Pierzynski’s time with the Giants -- one season in 2004 -- is generally not remembered fondly. Matheny joked Monday that Pierzynski is "looking forward to his warm reception here in San Francisco" today.
* Matheny didn’t have much of an update on Molina. He said Molina would have to play catch again today before the Cardinals decide whether he’s available for late defense.
Matheny said team doctors are "confident that (Molina’s) not going to hurt himself worse with this. There’s a significant injury there, but it’s just going to be dealing with the pain and figuring out how he can and if he can do the different movements we need him to make."
* Pablo Sandoval’s 14-game postseason hitting streak ended in St. Louis, but he still has a 20-game streak going of reaching base safely in the postseason. That’s one behind the Giants franchise record set by Barry Bonds in 2002-03. Sandoval can tie Bonds today.
* Some pre-Game 3 reading: Tim Hudson and John Lackey won’t hesitate to improvise a little on the mound if necessary. And Bochy has contemplated tweaking how he uses his bullpen, but says Hunter Strickland will remain in the mix. Also columnist Ailene Voisin caught up with Andrew Susac about the Jesuit High product’s first postseason hit.